The Research School of Physics has had spectacular success in the 2023 awards season.
Our staff and students snared medals from the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP) for best honours thesis, best PhD thesis, and for research excellence. And from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), the 2023 Environmental Chemistry Medal Award.
Four of the recipients are from the Nuclear Physics and Accelerator Applications (NPAA) Department, icing on the cake during the 50 year celebrations for the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF).
For the best Australian PhD thesis, Dr Kirill Koshelev was awarded the 2023 Bragg Gold Medal for his research in the Fundamental & Theoretical Physics Department, which ‘opens the door to new nanodevices capable of computational signal processing using light’.
Martha Reece received the AIP’s 2023 TH Laby Medal for her Honours thesis. Her thesis, in NPAA, was recognised for ‘advancing our technical capability to study collective features of atomic nuclei through Coulomb excitation’.
Dr Michaela Froehlich, also from NPAA, received the 2023 Environmental Chemistry Medal Award from the Analytical & Environmental Chemistry Division of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.
The award comes in recognition of more than ten year’s work developing methods for using trace level actinide radionuclides as environmental tracers, especially uranium-236 that dates from atomic tests in the nineteen-fifties. Details of her award lecture are here.
The most prestigious award went to Professor Mahananda Dasgupta and Professor David Hinde, who jointly receive the 2023 Boas Medal from the AIP.
The current and past director, respectively, of HIAF, Professor Dasgupta and Professor Hinde were recognised for their research into the formation of superheavy elements.
The AIP citation points to their ‘elucidation of the crucial roles and mechanisms of nuclear structure in the synthesis of superheavy nuclei’.
‘Dasgupta and Hinde have revealed key physics at each of the three stages in the synthesis of superheavy nuclides. They’ve achieved this through innovative measurements made on specialist instrumentation they developed for this purpose.’
The pair were a crucial part of the international efforts to create element 117 , which was named Tennessine and added to the Periodic Table in 2016.
The AIP also notes the relevance of the nuclear fusion research to formation of superheavy elements in stars, pointing out that ‘exactly how this happens pushes the boundaries of our understanding of physics and chemistry.
‘Understanding the many-body quantum dynamics involved is crucial for successfully forming superheavy nuclides in the lab and gives us new insight into how this may occur in cosmic stellar events’
Professor Dasgupta and Professor Hinde join a distinguished group of ANU physicists who have won the Boas Medal: Jim Williams (1993), Hans Bachor (2000), George Dracoulis (2004), Yuri Kivshar (2005), Chennupati Jagadish (2013), David McClelland (2017) and Susan Scott (2022).